October 2023 - Cathleen O'Daniel Morgan

October 2023 - Cathleen O'Daniel Morgan
Posted on 10/31/2023
October 2023 - Cathleen O'Daniel Morgan

The School District of Lee County leadership and staff are committed to creating a world-class school system that ensures every child reaches his or her highest personal potential. Our approach involves setting clear priorities, and holding ourselves accountable for achieving these goals. Here's how we are working to provide better opportunities and experiences for their students:

  • Focus on Student Readiness: The District places a strong emphasis on preparing students from preschool to high school for life after graduation, whether that means pursuing a career, college, or military service.

  • Research-Based Professional Learning: All staff members, both academic and operational, receive training based on the latest research in education to improve their skills and abilities.

  • Safe and Healthy Environments: The District strives to create safe and healthy environments on school buses and within schools to ensure the well-being of students.

  • Strong Family Communication: Encouraging and strengthening parent engagement with schools is a top priority. We want parents to be actively involved in their child's education.

Recently, the District, with the support of the School Board, updated our Envision 2030 strategic plan to address new challenges and opportunities. One significant challenge we continue to face is the continued rapid increase in student enrollment, which has grown by over 1,500 students annually for the past decade, and just recently surpassing 100,000 students. This growth brought issues like a shortage of school seats, inequities in school choice, and transportation complexities.

To address these challenges, Superintendent Dr. Christopher Bernier led Town Hall meetings in the fall of 2022 to engage with the community and discuss changes needed to support the district's goals. One major change was shifting from a zone-based school choice plan to a proximity-based plan for the 2023-24 school year. This change aimed to create stronger neighborhood communities within schools, improve transportation reliability, and reduce costs.

The district also realigned elementary schools to fit the Proximity Plan, which was a significant undertaking for families and staff. However, it resulted in benefits such as shorter bus times, more reliable schedules for students, and cost savings for the district.

This fall, Superintendent Bernier is again holding Town Hall meetings to present the refreshed strategic plan for the 2024-25 school year. One of the proposed changes is the expansion of the Proximity Plan to middle schools. This would redraw attendance boundaries for 6th, 7th, and 8th-grade students, assigning them to schools closer to home and limiting their choices to two schools. The goal is to strengthen community ties with schools and improve transportation reliability.

If you're interested in learning more or providing input, please attend the upcoming Town Hall meeting at Bonita Springs Middle School on November 13th at 5:30 p.m. You may also take our survey to provide your feedback. The School Board will vote on the Middle School Proximity Plan on November 21st. You can view the draft plan and presentations on the School District of Lee County’s YouTube channel.

The content and any opinions expressed in this article are solely the author's and do not necessarily reflect the facts, opinions, and beliefs of the Lee County School Board or its affiliates.